So, you notice yourself getting distracted during meditation. Your mind is wandering to the argument you had with your partner last night or veers off towards thinking about what’s for lunch. You catch yourself in thought and feel frustrated. You want to give up on this meditation thingy all together. I get it. I’ve been there. I have been meditating for about 9 years and still have never gone more than 10 minutes without my mind wandering off.
But, rather than giving up on yourself and deleting your Headspace App, give yourself a high-five! Yep, that’s right. Congratulate yourself!
Give yourself kuddos. Not necessarily for getting distracted, but for noticing that you were distracted. You see, meditation is like any other thing you practice in your life. Like anything that requires practice, also requires patience and repetition. Our meditation muscle needs working out too. So, every time you catch yourself in a distracting thought or notice your mind start to drift off, think of it like a bicep curl for the mind. The more we practice, the more we strengthen our meditation muscle and improve its endurance. After awhile you will be able to meditate longer and longer, without getting distracted. You will be able to notice your thougths and come back to the breath and the body more quickly.
So, don’t beat yourself up for your distracting thoughts during meditation. Instead, ackowledge your thoughts, thank them for their presence, and watch them float away. And then, visualize giving yourself a high-five or a pat on the back, each time you come back to the breath and the sensations in the body.
Some things that help me are to stay focused during meditation are:
- Labeling the parts of the breath as “inhale” and “exhale”
- Counting the breaths. Inhale 1, Exhale 1, Inhale 2, Exhale 2. Set a goal to be present for five breaths and then maybe ten.
- Following an entire breath cycle from the start of the inhale to the end of the exhale and then begin again.
- Forgeting all about the breath and focusing on the sounds around me.
- Focusing only on the sensations in the body as I breathe in and out. What moves and expand when I inhale? What softens or releases when I exhale? Can I detect the breath in my nostrils? Throat? Chest? Belly?
Meditation is not about silencing the mind and reaching enlightenment in 2021. It’s about slowing down our thoughts, connecting with our body, and tuning into our emotions. It’s about taking to stop, breathe and celebrate the moment.
So, get back on that meditation pillow, renew your Insight Timer subscription and start celebrating your progress. You are doing a fantastic job!
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